So that she might go unnoticed, she doesn’t turn on
the sitting-room light when street lights gutter,
announce evening in a sudden gust of white
that catches out the rain. She wonders if it’s okay
to start drinking at four, winter nights creep in
ever earlier. In the kitchen she greets the fridge:
they blink at each other for a minute –
she reaches for wine, grabs like it’s ripe on the vine,
the Veneto sun freckling her arms, a 50 kilo basket
dragging her backwards into hot earth.
She presses the bottle to her cheek, remembers how
each grape was too low to squat for, too low not to stoop –
how she spent that holiday, spread the full-length
of his bed watching first light distil the dawn,
splash through shutters, ooze across the room.
She hangs her tears at the front of the house
cuts the rain in half and puts time
in the hot black kettle. She sits in the kitchen
reading the teacup full of small dark tears;
it’s foretold the man in the wood
hovers in the dark rain above the winding path.
The man is talking to her in moons,
she is laughing to hide her tears
and with little time, she secretly
plants the moons in the dark brown bed.
She shivers, thinks the man is watching
as the jokes of the child dance
on the roof of the house. Tidying,
she carefully puts hot rain in the teacup,
sings as she hangs her tears on a string
and watching the dance, thinks herself mad.
She takes her child-small fists from her pockets, shakes them
till her fingers tingle at the pads, shelters air in her palms
as if it were a white-blue egg that might just wake.
Her time ticks in shameful hours – cedared, Yardley-soaped,
she hides at the back behind black dresses, chiffon blouses,
knee-high boots until the lolling egg rolls from her grasp, blue-white,
slips from her fingertips and she watches it (as if in slow motion)
collide with the edge of the wardrobe door. Skull first,
struck like plate glass, she’s stuck in no man’s land
with only startled air and centimetres between them.
Her voice, huddled in her throat, lets out only the slightest sound,
amniotic fluid flows in rivulets down her wrists, spills like silk.
On the scan you are tiny – a whiteness
in a dark sky. Your breath steams in patches,
ghost white strokes on the photograph.
(I want to step into the picture to see what happens.
I want to go between the blackness and the clouds).
You stitched yourself to me with fisherman’s nylon,
sharp needles where your nails should have been.
But even in my warm belly you were unformed.
When your breath left, your eyes were still closed.
You would not have seen a thing. I turn the page –
nobody moved, nobody smiled.
(I want to pull the dark over me and find you there:
you at two, at five, at twelve).
My tongue wraps itself around you, grows limp
when I speak your name. There is urgency in my loss.
I want to unwrap it, to see it, to release it.
My body yearns for you at night. It cries.
At the end of the darkness is the thread of my child.
I carry the weight of the dead.
(I want to place my hands around your face,
my fingers stretching as you smile. My child).